Nobody likes a grammar pedant pointing out minor linguistic errors, but every so often, those errors matter. The Texas GOP held its convention this month and made a critical mistake while writing its policy platform. Now, thanks to a grammatical error, the Texas Republican Party is on the record supporting LGBT rights. Its official stance, in fact, is that the majority of Texans are gay, because that’s what God commanded.
Confused? Here’s the exact passage as it appears in the Texas Republican Party’s platform:
Homosexuality is a chosen behavior that is contrary to the fundamental unchanging truths that has been ordained by God in the Bible, recognized by our nations founders, and shared by the majority of Texans.
There are a few grammatical failings in that passage (and a few moral ones, too), but the word “has” is the important one. The party’s clear intention was to state that homosexuality is contrary to the “fundamental unchanging truths” that God ordained in the Bible, and that most Texans disapprove of being gay. But because the authors used the word “has” and not “have,” the implication is that homosexuality itself “has been ordained by God in the Bible,” and that it’s a “behavior ... shared by the majority of Texans.”
In addition, the word “nations” is missing an apostrophe, thus implying that the United States is more than one nation, and the last comma in the passage is an always-controversial Oxford comma. But “has” is the the most important one. (Alternatively, the word “truths” could have been changed to “truth,” and the state’s Republican Party wouldn’t be in this snafu. But it wasn’t, so it is.)
This isn’t the first time that Texas has attempted to subjugate gay people, only to fall victim to a tiny grammatical error. The state passed what was ostensibly a same-sex marriage ban in 2005. However, the constitutional amendment in question contained a 22-word clause that, when read literally, actually outlawed all marriages in the state, same-sex or otherwise. (But state clerks issuing marriage certificates interpreted the law as it had originally been intended.)
Grammar nerds often get a bad rap, and sure, that’s sometimes warranted; it’s no fun having someone pick apart your every minor linguistic error, and some mistakes simply don’t needed to be pointed out. But if Texas Republicans had a firmer grasp on the English language, they wouldn’t have accidentally endorsed the exact opposition position from the one they’d intended.